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Here’s another interesting book from the author of Freak the Mighty. It concerns a fat kid named Arthur who sends in for a mail-order device guaranteed to make him lose weight in his sleep. What he gets is a weird kind of helmet. He goes down into his basement, lies down on his late father’s workbench (yes, he’s grown up without a father) and puts the helmet on, and goes right to sleep.
Then he wakes up, walks out of the basement into the backyard thinking that the thing didn’t do the trick, and finds himself on a beach on a completely different world. A world of man-sized talking frogs, winged people, giants and sea serpents and demons and bees the size of dogs. A world that, like his own world and all other worlds, is threatened with annihilation because he made a mistake with the directions to his REM World device and has done the impossible: he’s in two places at once, in REM World (without his helmet and thereby no way to get back) and on his father’s workbench, snoring away.
And because the impossible has happened, the Nothing has found its way into the universe and is slowly chewing away at everything that exists. Only fat, pathetic Arthur can fight it, with the help of a shape-changing creature called Morf who has been sent to be his guide, and the friends he meets along the way. He has to build his physical strength through a series of tasks, and his courage through a series of desperate challenges, in order to find out how to fight the Nothing and get back home.
The story moves very fast and much of it is very beautiful and very odd, but it’s neat to see the changes that come over Arthur. I think kids with imagination will like it. The moral is, in fact, “Use your imagination.”
Recommended Age: 12+